BEST Of HIP-HOP in 2012! by Alloyius Mcilwaine

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TABLE OF CONTENTS:
-Artist Of The Year
-Group Of The Year
-Producer Of The Year
-Rookie Of The Year
-Verse Of The Year
-Album Cover Of The Year
-Slept On Album Of The Year
-Disappointment Of The Year
-Top 101 Songs Of The 2012
-Video Of The Year

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Artist of the Year (2012): Homeboy Sandman


-I’m sure that many of you are surprised by my choice for “Hip-Hop Artist of the Year (2012)”.   Your surprise is justifiable.  After all, Homeboy Sandman IS a bit of a dark horse pick.  He doesn’t have the biggest name or the biggest industry buzz.  In all actuality, your average Hip-Hop fan has probably never heard any of Homeboy Sandman’s music.  On the flip side of the coin, you have a talented young artist named Kendrick Lamar who has gained major mainstream success over the past few years.  The majority of the Hip-Hop sites and magazines are going to give this year’s title to Kendrick, because of the tremendous hype behind his hit singles (“Cartoons & Cereal”“Swimming Pools”, & “The Recipe”) and his popular major label debut album, “Good Kid, m.A.A.d City”.   
However, while Kendrick Lamar is a legitimate contender for “Hip-Hop Artist of the Year”, I couldn’t think of anyone who produced more high quality music this year than Homeboy Sandman.  And that’s what this accolade is all about.  It’s not about the hype or the popularity of the artist.  It’s about who consistently put out the highest quality of music in the calendar year.  As I was putting together my list for the “Top 100 Hip-Hop Songs of the Year”, I noticed that Homeboy Sandman had more songs on the list than any other MC or group.  In my humble opinion, “Couple Bars” & “Rated Ours” were two of the top ten hip-hop songs released in 2012.  He also released a solid “B” grade album “, “First Of A Living Breed“, two EPs (“Subject: Matter” & “Chimera“), and had guest appearances on several dope tracks…including “The Great Escape” by Blu & Exile,  & “Reloaded” by Substantial (also featuring Javier Sparks).
Here are some of my favorite tracks that Homeboy Sandman released this year:
-“Couple Bars”:

  
-“Rated Ours”:
  

-“Watchu Want From Me”:


-“Mine All Mine”:

-“Not Really”:


-“The Miracle”:


-“Illuminati”: http://youtu.be/EsNfgRrtzos                                                                       -“4 Corners”: http://www.allmusic.com/song/4-corners-mt0045262554                     -“Sputnik”: http://youtu.be/cLqiRXg6X1U                                                                         -“Unforgettable”: http://youtu.be/02yvtMVdm3k                                                            -“Brown”: http://youtu.be/YGd_Sw6_WIY

I’m sure that many of you will disagree with my choice, but if you objectively listen to the tracks that I posted above, I believe that most of you will agree that he was a legitimate choice. His music may not be for everybody.  He’s a “think outside of the box” type of artist.  He won’t always rap in the cadence that you expect him to.  He won’t always say the things that you expect him to say.  However, he will consistently supply you with thought-provoking music and layered metaphors.  He’s carved out his own little niche in Hip-Hop, and I think that he’s comfortable doing his own thing outside of the major spotlight…but he does deserve attention and recognition for what he has accomplished.

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Group of the Year (2012): The Doppelgangaz

2012 has been a slow year for Hip-Hop groups in general…especially when compared to 2011.  Panacea’s album “Midnight Morning Africa” was originally supposed to come out this year, but the release was pushed back to 2013.  CYNE and Cunninlynguists only released one song a piece in 2012.  People Under The Stairs didn’t release any new music (that I heard about), and neither did Ugly Duckling, Blue Scholars, Common Market, orGiant Panda.  The Chicharones released an album, but I was disappointed by the overall product (even though it had a few really dope songs on it). We were halfway through the year, and the only dope group release that I came across was the “Detroit Revolutions” album by Clear Soul Forces (released in March).  And then someone introduced me to The Doppelgangaz…a relatively new Hip-Hop group based out of Orange County, NY.   The first song that I heard was “NY Bushmen” off of 2011’s “Lone Sharks”album.  Soon after hearing this song, I learned that these guys produced all of the beats that they were rapping over.    I was immediately impressed.  It’s one thing to produce a dope beat.  That in itself is impressive.  It’s another thing to produce a dope beat, and they proceed to create a dope Hip-Hop song back rapping over it.
After purchasing the “Lone Sharks” album, I searched around the internet to see what else these guys produced, and discovered that they released an album called  “Beats For Brothels Vol. 2” on June 19th, 2012.  The press release for the project described the album perfectly:
Beats For Brothels, Vol. 2 is an enigma of sorts. A unique structure comprised heavily of instrumentals and decorated with the Ghastly Duo’s vocals interspersed throughout the project.”

Towards the end of the year, The Whoevers put out a dope album called “The Red Tape”, Typical Cats put out their album entitled “3”, and Wu-Tang Clan & The Lox collaborated to release the surprisingly solid “Wu-Block” album.  And of course, Clear Soul Forces were in the running for their album that they released earlier in the year.  What separated The Doppelgangaz from the rest of the pack was the fact that they made music videos for a good majority of the songs from the album.  Here are a few of those videos:

A poster on the ughh.com Hip-Hop forum said it best when he said that these guys have “whimsicle personalities”.  Seeing these guys act silly on their videos really added to the experience of the album…and it gave them a leg up on the competition.   I’m really looking forward to seeing and hearing more from the Doppelgangaz in the near future.

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Producer of the Year (2012): Alchemist

The “Producer of the Year” title was basically a three-way race between Apollo BrownEL-P, and Alchemist.  Apollo Brown produced the sleeper hit of the year, “Trophies” (a collaboration with OC), as well as some notable singles from artists like Has-Lo & 7even:Thirty.  EL-P produced two albums that garnered a lot of high praise in 2012, includingKiller Mike’s “R.A.P. Music” album and his own fourth solo album, “Cancer 4 Cure”. And then there’s Alchemist.  Alchemist wins the title this year because of the sheer number of quality instrumentals that he produced in 2012.   He produced 5 tracks on “Vodka & Ayahuasca”, the sophomore album from hip-hop duo Gangrene (a collaboration between Alchemist & rapper/producer Oh No).  Alchemist also did a joint project with Action Bronsonentitled “Rare Chandeliers“, a concept album called “Russian Roulette” (where he used samples from Russian songs for every track), and two fully produced mixtapes.   It’s a feat in itself to produce that much music in a year, but he was also amazingly consistent.  There’s a saying that says “quality over quantity”, but Alchemist gave us both this year…and that’s why he takes the title of “Producer Of The Year (2012)”.

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Rookie of the Year (2012)/Mixtape Of The Year (2012): Joey BadA$$ – “1999”

Joey BadA$$ is one of those cats from this new generation of MCs that eases my mind when I contemplate the future of the Hip-Hop genre.  In a time where talentless, minstrel show clowns like Chief Keef have gained major mainstream success, Joey BadA$$ made a name for himself by creating nostalgic,  Golden Era-esque Hip-Hop. It seemed as if the 17-year old Brooklyn native came out of nowhere with the video for his hard-hitting  single “Survival Tactics” (from his debut project, “1999″).  

After the video went viral (it now has over 1,500,000 views) Joey BadA$$ became the embodiment of the resurrection of 90’s era NY Boom Bap.  While “Survival Tactics” was the track that brought Joey BadA$$ mainstream attention, I believe that he shines brightest on a song called “Waves”.  On this track, the Progressive Era MC displays an amazing amount of maturity (especially for his age), and showcases his stellar story-telling ability.  The “1999”mixtape as a whole really does harken back to the 90’s…even using throwback samples from artists like J Dilla (R.I.P.) and Lord Finesse. Although there are a couple of filler tracks on the album where the braggadocious rhymes can get a little tiring, the project as a whole is a very impressive.  Hopefully, more up and coming young MC’s will follow Joey’s lead, and use advanced lyricism as a platform to gain major success.

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Verse Of The Year (2012) – Verse 1 of “Lamborghini Angels” by Lupe Fiasco

“With a circle on the floor he compels them to be pure
Pulls the beast out of his heart then impales it on a sword
Writes a prayer on some paper and then he nails it to the door
Just the good of you may enter by the mercy of the lord
Listen not to what he speaks, that’s been the cursing of his cause
A seduction of his senses by the devils he adores
The unholy has him hostage and his soul is now at war
Follow not his secret knowledge it will bring you no reward
Shun him while in public disallow him from your stores
Have no part in his affairs ‘less his pestilence be yours
Make scoundrels of the righteous and virgins into whores
But we must still pray that his colour will be cured”

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Album Cover of the Year: “Magna Carta” by Melanin 9

 

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Slept on Album of the Year (2012) – “The Idea of Beautiful” by Rapsody


I considered “Trophies” by Apollo Brown and OC for this title, but if you look across the internet at the various underground hip-hop forums (and even on huge sites likeHipHopDX.com), you’ll see that most people have this given this album a lot of high praise.  It’s sad to say, but you really don’t see as many people talking about “The Idea of Beautiful” by Rapsody.   In fact, when I posted about this album on ughh.com, there were more than a few misogynistic responses to the post.  To give you PC versions of some of the responses, some of the posters were saying things like “women can’t rap”, and “there aren’t any talented female MCs”.  It really showed me that even in 2012, Hip-Hop still has some major gender issues to get over.  Rapsody tackles many of these issues on this album.  She also touches on subjects like the loss of innocence in today’s youth, and her personal experiences in past relationships.   “The Idea of Beautiful” really is an amazing piece of work from start to finish.  The future looks bright for 9th Wonder’s newest protege.  Hopefully in the future, people will stop judging her as a “Femcee”, and respect her for what she’s doing as simply a “Dope MC”.

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Disappointment of the Year (2012): The Canibus vs. Dizaster Battle:


Most of you reading this article already know about the Canibus vs. Dizaster battle, but let me just give a quick summary for those of you that didn’t hear about it or see it.  Basically, battle rap champion Dizaster challenges battle rap legend Canibus to a battle.  Canibus accepts the challenge, and they set a date for a live pay-per-view event.  The hype machine basically bills the battle as the Hip-Hop version of The Rock vs. John Cena…so it becomesTHE Hip-Hop event of the year.  So the battle gets here, and Canibus comes in with his arm in a sling…which itself was puzzling.  Dizaster spits some sharp, but predictable lines, and Canibus spits a couple of rounds full of sub-par bars…before conceding the match in the third round. After conceding the battle, Canibus whips out a notebook (saying that he wrote all of these battle rhymes, but didn’t have time to memorize them), and then famously begins to read battle rhymes out of the notebook.  The whole thing was just absolutely embarrassing and really confusing.  Honestly, as a fan of Canibus, I was kind of heart broken.  I didn’t mind him losing…it was the way that it happened that really bothered me.

Canibus is undoubtedly, in my mind, one of the greatest lyricists of all time.  However, like many people with genius level talent, I think that he might be a little off (or maybe bi-polar).  I think that Canibus’ main problem is that he just doesn’t have a strong support system.  It seems as if he has had many chances over the year to blow up, and every time he gets one of these chances, he does something to shoot himself in the foot.  Mind you, I’m not talking about the LL Cool J beef.  What he did there was 100% justified.  I’m talking about the random squabbles that he gotten into over the years, and the various decisions that he’s made that hurt his career.  For example, this battle with Dizaster could have been a HUGE boost for his career…and it could have put him back into the spotlight.  After conceding the battle, Canibus said that he had been trying to memorize his rhymes for three whole weeks, and that he just couldn’t remember them all.  This automatically raised an eye brow for me.  I said to myself “you had FOUR MONTHS to prepare for this battle…why did you start preparing for it just three weeks ago?”.   And it’s not as if he had gotten to the point where he couldn’t write battle rhymes anymore.  Just a year prior to the battle, he had some scathing words forJoe Budden and Royce Da 5’9 on a track called “Joey Cupcakes”.  He also wrote a dope track called “The Art of Yo”, with some incredibly aggressive lines that I assume were directed at Math Hoffa.  So it’s not as if Canibus was incapable of battling…he just wasn’t prepared.  He hadn’t done live battle rapping in about 15 years, and apparently he thought that 3 weeks was enough time to prepare for someone who had been battling live consistently for at least the past few years.  And he had no one in his corner to say, “look man…maybe you should focus on this battle for the next few months instead of recording and touring”.  The whole thing is just…sad.

And now, Canibus announced that his next album, Rip the Jacker II, will be his last.  I can only hope that he goes out with a bang.  I’ll always be a fan of his music, and I would still put his Top 25 best songs up against the majority of MCs out there, but this battle definitely left a bad taste in my mouth.

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My Top 10 Hip-Hop Albums of 2012 (In No Particular Order):

1) “Home Is Where The Art Is” – Substantial
2) “First Of A Living Breed” – Homeboy Sandman
3) “3” – Typical Cats
4) “Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them” – Blu & Exile
5) “Skelethon” – Aesop Rock
6) -“The Idea of Beautiful” – Rapsody

7) “Detroit Revolutions” – Clear Soul Forces

8) “Trophies” – O.C. & Apollo Brown
9) -“Magna Carta” – Melanin 9
10) “Control System” – Ab-Soul
Honorable Mention:

-“The Red Tape” – The Whoevers

-“A Dream Deferred” – Skyzoo
-“Cancer 4 Cure” – EL-P
-“Beats For Brothels Vol. 2” – The Doppelgangaz
-“Good Kid Maad City” – Kendrick Lamar
-“Black Boy Radio” – Actual Proof
-“The Final Adventure” – MURS & 9th Wonder

-“Monochrome Skies” – Epidemic

-“Concrete Soul” – Beneficence

-“Fillin’ In The Potholes” – Robust
-“Reporting Live” – Journalist 103
-“Self Sacrifice” – Mello Music Group
-“The Purpose Of Confidence” – Purpose & Confidence
-“NY2BE” – Reap ‘n Chillow

-“Rare Chandeliers” –  Action Bronson & Alchemist

-“MA-DOOM: Son Of Yvonne” – Masta Ace & DOOM
– “Quarter Life Crisis” – Quatermaine
-“Straight, No Chaser” Reks & Statik Selektah
-“Lasting Impressions” – uMaNg
-“Wu Block” – “Wu Block
-“Exalted” – Blue Sky Black Death & Nacho Picasso
-“Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album by Lupe Fiasco

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Top 101 Hip-Hop Songs of 2012 (In No Particular Order)
1) “Couple Bars” – Homeboy Sandman
2) “Umoja” – Substantial
3) “The Book of Soul” – Ab-Soul
4) “Get No Better” – Clear Soul Forces <–Vid of the Year Nominee

5) “Cartoons and Cereal” – Kendrick Lamar
6) “Puzzling Thing” – Typical Cats
7) “Rendezvous” – The Whoevers
8 ) “Scandalous” – J.R. & PH7, Brokn Englsh & St. Joe Louis
9) “Don’t Be Jelly” – Blu & Exile
10) “Happiness Is” – ScienZe & King I Divine ft. Sene, Blu, & Britain Parker <–Collaboration of the Year (2012)
11) “Grown Up” – Danny Brown <– 2012 Hip-Hop Video of the Year
12) “Waves” – Joey Bada$$ <–Vid of the year nominee


13) “Rated Ours” – Homeboy Sandman
14) “What’s The Hurry?” – Stann Smith ft. P3
15) “Anotha One” – Apollo Brown & O.C.
16) “What Am I” – The Doppelgangaz
17) “Ready to Roll” – Oddissee
18) “Around My Way (Freedom Ain’t Free)” – Lupe Fiasco
19) “Daughters” – Nas
20) “Dunky Fividends” – Styles of Beyond ft. Apathy
21) “Blue Window” – Elzhi
22) “Make The Money” – Macklemore
23) “Black Jesus” – The Game ft. Cool & Dre
24) “Jakob Ladder” – CYNE ft. Substantial
25) “Rear Window” – Dice Raw
26) “Check My Resume” – Substantial
27) “Kind Of Love” – Rapsody ft. Nomsa Mazwai
28) “Stars Shine Brightest (Remix)” – CunninLynguists ft. ST
29) “Congregation” – Talib Kweli ft. Black Thought & Ab-Soul
30) “Swimming Pools” – Kendrick Lamar
31) “9-24-11” – Action Bronson & Party Supplies
32) “God” – 7even:Thirty ft. Laurie Walker
33) “Cherry Wine” – Nas feat. Amy Winehouse
34) “Stay Golden” – Epidemic

35) “The Formula” – Apollo Brown & OC

36) “Bitch Bad” – Lupe Fiasco
37) “For Lack Of A Better Word” – Theory Hazit
38) “Goodbye” – J.R. & PH7 ft. Phonte & Median
39) “Me And My Old School” – Big K.R.I.T.
40) “Get Together” – MURS & 9th Wonder ft. Rapsody
41) “The Full Retard” – EL-P
42) “Zero Dark Thirty” – Aesop Rock
43) “Day One: A Song About Nothing” – Mac Miller
44) “NonFiction” – Rapsody ft. Raheem Devaughn & Ab-Soul
45) “A Few Of My Favorite Demons” – JR & PH7, Brokn Englsh & St. Joe Louis
46) “When The Last Leaf Falls” – Small Pro ft. Has-Lo
47) “Vision of Excellence” – Purpose & Confidence ft. Cormega & Estee Nack
48) “Church Rmx – Slum Village f. Skyzoo & Focus
49) “Survival Tactics” – Joey Bada$$ x Capital STEEZ
50) “Satisfaction” – MHz (Copywrite + Camu Tao + Jakki Da Motamouth + Tage + RJD2) feat. Slug (of Atmosphere)
51) “Way Out Way In” – Oddisee
52) “Take Me Back” – Pac Div
53) “We Don’t” – Zion I ft. The Grouch & Eligh
54) “The Pain” – KnowMads
55) “A Man” – Blu and Exile
56) “Burn It Down” – The Chicharones
57) “Mourning in America” – Brother Ali
58) “Woman” – Children of the Night
59) “ZZZ Top” – Aesop Rock
60) “The Crown” – Typical Cats
61) “Never Break Me” – AWAR ft. Evidence

62) “Look What We Have Here” – Skyzoo

63) “Form Follows Function” – Lupe Fiasco
64) “Secretary” – Mello Music Group Ft. Has-Lo & Oddisee
65) “Whatchu Want From Me” – Homeboy Sandman
66) “The NoteB.O.O.K.” – D-sisive
67) “Slash Gordon” – MURS & Fashawn
68) “My Window” – Wax Tailor ft. Elzhi & Aku Naru
69) “Footprints” – Sene
70) “Funeral For A Killer” – MURS & 9th Wonder
71) “Mine All Mine” – Homeboy Sandman
72) “Streamline” – Damu the Fudgemunk ft. Raw Poetic
73)  “Whole Wide World (Remix)” – The Dopplegangaz ft. Apathy
74) “All Real” – Beneficence ft. A.G. & DJ Kaos
75) “Manhattan” – ANTHM
76) “Re-Load” – Zion I
77) “Backboards” – Sene ft. Blu
78) “Apply It & See” – Del the Funky Homosapien & Parallel Thought
79)  “Drivin’ Round” – Wu Block ft. Masta Killa, Gza & Erykah Badu
80) “Chum” – Earl Sweatshirt

81) “Vodka & Ayahuasca” – Gangrene (Alchemist + Oh No)

82) “Black Out” – Ghostface Killah (of Wu-Tang Clan), M.O.P. (Lil’ Fame + Billy Danze), Pharoahe Monch (of Organized Konfusion)

83) “Mighty Morphin’ Foreskin” – Captain Murphy
84) “Drones Over Brooklyn” – EL-P

85) “The Miracle” – Homeboy Sandman

86) “Stop The Press” – Brother Ali
87) “The Game Changer” – Saigon ft. Marsha Ambrosius

88)”Black Boy Radio” – Actual Proof

89) “Weightless” – The Illz
90) “Decisions” – Ka
91) “This Generation” – MURS & Fashawn
92) “A Queen’s Story” – Nas
93) “Fly Away” – Talib Kweli ft. Jessica Care Moore
94) “M.A.R.S.” – Cormega, Action Bronson, Roc Marciano, and Saigon

95) “Gold Soul Theory” – The Underachievers

96) “Mach One” – Planet Asia

97) “Lines” – Big Boi ft. A$AP Rocky & Phantogram

98) “Red Eye” – Unfukwitable f. Ruste Juxx, Reks, Reef The Lost Cauze, Shabaam Sahdeeq, Nutso, Midaz

99) “Rivers of Blood” – Wu-Tang Clan and Kool G. Rap

100) “Free The Robots” – Capital Steez (R.I.P.)
101) “Lamborghini Angels” – Lupe Fiasco
by Alloyius Mcilwaine, Cultures Clothing Co.
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CULTURES CLOTHING’S “I LOVE HIP-HOP” T-SHIRT (MEN’S)
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